April 8th, 2008
03:25 PM ET
12 years ago

DCCC chair warns negative presidential race could do damage

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/08/art.vanhollen.gi.jpg caption="Van Hollen is chairman of the DCCC."](CNN) - The top Democrat charged with helping his party maintain control of the House in 2008 warned Tuesday congressional candidates could suffer if the Democratic presidential race turns overly negative.

Speaking at a press briefing with reporters, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen predicted the Democrats will pick up House seats in November, but said the ongoing contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama remains a "variable."

"We've seen the energy and excitement in the early Democratic primaries, and the only thing that could hurt or cut back on that is if the Democratic primary gets so divisive that it's difficult to patch it up and heal the wounds in time to be together in November," said Van Hollen, who has not endorsed either candidate.

"We need to make sure that both candidates stay positive so you don't leave lasting wounds that will depress in anyway that kind of energy and enthusiasm," he added. "I don't think we are at that point. I do think there is a danger of reaching that point."

At the same briefing, Clinton backer and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer sounded a less dire tone, saying the hotly-contested race will benefit the party come November.

“Each is getting to refine their message and battle test their campaigns in this primary," he said. "I don't think any damaging blows have been landed by one or the other, and damaging to the general election, and I think both are very strong candidates."

Filed under: DCCC • DSCC
soundoff (255 Responses)
  1. Bob


    Why is Hillary beloved so much in Pennsylvania?

    She has lied so many times to the American people that not many believe her anymore. She was caught.

    So, why does Pennsylvania still love her? Please give me a truthful answer. I was a Hillary supporter but I can not support someone who can not tell the truth like her on so many occasions.

    April 8, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. Amber

    Hmmm...they must be reading Obama supporters' blog comments EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY DAY on CNN, MSNBC, etc... The things you people say is not only hateful....its a lil psychotic. (i.e., "Too bad Hillary didn't marry OJ instead").

    Hillary supporters just bust on Obama for his lack of political record and experience....they don't wish him dead! Grow up folks....and you might want to visit your local Psychiatrist while you're at it.

    April 8, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. Stacy Clarks,

    Julie: what dream world are you living in?

    since when did voters in Michigan and florida "chose" hillary (Obama was not on the ballot in Michigan, and voters were repeatedly told their votes won't count, so many people chose to save the preciosu time they do not have and nto go to the polls)

    Also, the polls show Obama closing in, so again, what dream world do you live in? He is ahead in Montana and other states

    again, what dream world do you live in?

    And if you want to see mean voters, read what hillary supporters are sayin

    be like the candidate you claim to have, stop whining, and grow a backbone....the job for presidency is not for the weak!

    OBAMA 08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 8, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  4. CTC

    Well it's like when someone is drowning, you must be very careful as they can take you down with them. Hillary please stop.

    Nancy Reagan campaign on drugs. "Just say no".

    Hillary supporters = Stepford Wives....
    Bra Burning, Feminist. Nothing worst that someone who is so blinded by their love for someone that they can't see the truth.

    Well they say that this last about 18 month. I guess the Hillariestas will not see the light until April or so.

    April 8, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  5. Dan

    Sorros and Oprah are playing chess with a deceitful candidate and in the process are helping the real big players like exxon win the november elections.

    April 8, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  6. Boye

    @ Julie, don't you think it's the Republicans who want division amongst Democrats that post such mean spirited comments on these blogs?

    April 8, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  7. Casual Observer


    That doesn't bode well for the upcoming races. An independent DCCC head calling for a cooling in campaign rhetoric. And then, a Senator Clinton surrogate basically saying..

    "don't worry about it, it all about being battle tested. No lines have been pushed"

    I am waiting for another kitchen sink to be tossed with the way the Obama campaign seems to be closing the gap in the polls between himself and Senator clinton.

    April 8, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |

    "Julie" just reminded me why I would not support Clinton. Julie must be on strange acid trip if she thinks her wishes will come true. I really, really don't understand the mentality of a person who says Clinton won Florida and Michigan. What does it take to get into your tiny brain they ALL agreed Mich,Fla would NOT count. Repeat they ALL agreed Mich and FLA would not count. One more time maybe? Don't you read the news at all? Hillary had a 20 point lead in Penn and it has now drop to 6. That's some huge margin for Hillary. Sorry, she can't cheat her way to the nomination. Fla and Mich don't count unless there is a revote. and I can hear it already so..Obama has traveled to both MICH and FLA to meet with party leader to figure out how to do a revote. He is NOT trying to keep Fla and Mich from voting. It is their own states that screwed themselves up. Oh wait, I think Obama is to blame for global warming and taking away the planet status for Pluto. I hear he also burbed once and that is reason enough not to vote for him.

    April 8, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  9. Rose - Baltimore, MD

    I love your dreaming. Please keep on dreaming. Hillary might win PA but with a small margin. There are people in PA who love Obama too just like Hillary. A side from PA Hillary will not win any other contest until Puerto Rico, where she will also win by a small margin once Obama visit there. Don't place you hopes too high up, you will get a heart attack at the end of the primary.

    April 8, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. IDonotseeanywrongwiththiscomment

    Democrats if you want to have a majority in every avenue. You need to get rid of hillary clinton. She is a parasite to the democratic party. you need to kill this parasite as soon as possible.

    April 8, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  11. fred

    Go Hillary!!!

    If not Hillary...McCain!!

    Down with Obama!!

    Obama is like Bush...doesn't know is behind, from a hole in the ground!!!

    April 8, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  12. Gail

    I think it's time to reflect on who has run a negative campign, it certainly has not been Obama or McCain. Only Hillary and Bill have been the ones who had the kitchen sink strategy, but even with it Obama is ahead and will be our nominee.

    Go Dems 08

    April 8, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  13. mep

    So, where's he been?

    April 8, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  14. Mandy

    All I know is I can not bear to have a BIG LIAR - Hilary to be our Commander-in-Chief!

    April 8, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  15. A&A

    well put Julie...the media...a.k.a the old boys club are focusing on the details not important about Hillary and her productive positive long career...she is way more trustworthy than BO, but they make it seem as if she is not...stories like the hospital happen everyday...i know-i don't have insurance


    April 8, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  16. Deb

    It is the Obama camp that is VERY nasty.

    I'm looking forward to them officially becoming a MUTE point!

    Hillary 08

    April 8, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  17. penn

    Having spent the last 3 weeks on the ground in PA I can attest that Obama has gained the big "Mo" recently. Clearly, this is why Clinton is spamming the press with quotes. In most discussions it sounds like the Penn disaster is the reason. In some cases, voters can no longer figure out where she stands on anything.

    April 8, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  18. April in Texas

    I think you should address this with a canidate (Hillary) about the negativity. She continues to take pot shots and so do her supporters. I have gone from well I would vote for her if she wins the nomination without stealing it so to speak to there is no way in good faith I can elect one who goes against my beliefs. I am not only voting for myself but for my children and their future as well. Clinton has made this process a debacle and even now still sends out messages of gender woe is me or flat out lies.

    Per Julie.. I have seen just as much negative from both sides so to say its just the Obama supporters is incorrect.

    Obama 08

    April 8, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  19. AJ, IL

    Pollings have long revealed that the most negative campaigns of the 2008 Presidential Nomination season have been run by Mitt Romney (Republican) and Hillary Clinton (Democrat). Romney is out and soon to will be Hillary.

    Julie...Hillary will probably win PA. She was always expected to win there because of the majority of PA Democratic establishment backing her and due the state's demographics. Just over 2 months ago, Hillary was leading Obama in polling there by 12pts -24pts. Now polling numbers have narrowed with a range 0pts to 8pts.

    Unless Hillary wins by double-digits say 10 to 20pts, her victory in PA will be seen as a draw by the media. If Obama wins NC by double-digits and ecks out a victory in Indiana, the contest will be over for Hillary. Hillary would probably go on to win West Virginia and Kentucky, while Obama went on to win Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans are not Mexicans.

    April 8, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  20. Mike in PA

    Here is PA we are wise to Hillary's corruption and tactics. She is unfit to be president and we will show that on April 22nd.

    April 8, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  21. Mikey, Scottsdale AZ

    There's a very simple solution to this... tell Hillary if she really care's about the Party to offer to serve the Party's choice of Barack Obama as his Vice President.

    After all, the current Vice President has the lion's share of the power ,why would she be offended ?

    April 8, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  22. Joe (WI)

    Somebody tell Julie's doctors that she escaped from the mental ward again.

    April 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  23. Edu Minnesota

    I think they should come direct and caution Hillary. I have had her make more negative attacks on Obama than I had Obama Call her names. She has always put an attitude of challenge instead of selling accross her solution to issues. That is not being strong. I prefer she show strenght in issues. Anyway, somebody will surely win come November. Be it Democrats or Republicas.

    April 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  24. pablo

    Wow, you have some fantastic predictions there Julie. I'm not sure I'd quite go along with all of those but will leave you alone as you may have been under sniper fire as well while dreaming them up.

    Whoever the nomination is though, I'll gladly back rather than 4 more years of the same failed polices we'd get under McCain't.

    April 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. Ifeanyi Azubike Houston Texas

    The democratic party is the only factor that can ensure a McCain victory and the continuation of the Bush years, Not the voters or the republican party. I do not understand how the dirt digging and mud throwing we have seen so far is not going to damage any of the candidates. How do you expect voters in Florida and Michigan to feel about Obama if Clinton is continually using an election that she discredited in September to stir up discontent. In a setting where the party leadership are not scared of the Clinton power, she should have been sanctioned for adopting a posture that castigates party rules. And to so blatantly call for the validation of elections that violated party rules deserve disqualification but the democratic party seems to lack the backbone to call her to order. They should remember that a McCain presidency will force people like me to relocate to Iraq and please save us by rising to claim a victory that is theirs to loose.

    April 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
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